*A continuation of my dairies from the last months of my dad’s life, when I was doing all of the caregiving, as well as trying to love him, take care of myself – and let go. Thanks for reading. 

February 9, 2010 Small Steps

OMG I feel like a million buckeroos….. why? Well…..because. Because for the past month I have been making incremental progress in the areas I really, really, really need to make progress in, such as writing, and exercising hard every day, and blogging and being present and, and, and. And because I made soup Sunday and have been nurturing myself in all the ways I most need, one side effect of which is that the cold (yesterday it was windy as heck and freezing ’round here) hasn’t been affecting me as it can and usually does, making me tighten up, which in turn makes me feel crappy and colder (vicious circle type thing) and makes exercising and writing and happy-ing impossible. Not happening this year. Yippee. 
And my dad returned to bowling last night and … better yet, he bowled a 221. We had agreed he would call afterwards to let me know how he was as it was his first night back out on the town post-illness, and the glee in his voice over the high score, and his feeling well enough not only to do it, but to do it well, made me very, very happy. I did something brilliant today as well, simple and brilliant. My darling brother, the pharmacist, ordered and received a thingummy which measures the oxygen levels in the blood for my dad. When I went into the store to pick-up my paper he said to me ‘oh this is in, are you seeing dad today?’ Usually, almost always, I would have said oh yes of course and, most likely making myself late for work, I’d have dropped everything to stop in with said thingummy to see my dad. But today (for no specific reason, but for which I thank you mother-father God) I simply said, not going there, won’t see him today. My brother made no fuss and will drop it off later; he lives the equivalent of one city block away from my pop so it’s not a hardship but oh! How do you spell relief? Delegation. Brilliant and yes, I know, it’s so not a big deal, but yes, yes, yes, it is for me, for me, for me. 
When in the midst of my NYC actor days I had a date book in which I kept a list of things to accomplish every day: exercise, mail to 5 casting directors, drop a picture here, go to this or that audition, call or write so and so – etc., etc. I loved that because it kept me on task and I have resurrected the habit and hello!!! I love it again. 
I’ve also been thinking more about that former student of mine, a boy who cried on my couch the other night, telling me he is gay, coming out, preparing for telling his parental units. Of course, he knows I adore him, always will, but still, what courage he showed in opening up to me and how inspiring to me when I can be such a massive weeny about opening up when it really matters. Opening up almost always matters, but. Thrice bitten, five times as shy or something like that. Asking for what I want and need has always been excruciatingly hard. My student is, like me, a third child and we both saw enough of whatever from our older siblings to want so much to avoid all the pitfalls. In family systems psychology, they say the first child understands and lives out the explicit rules the second child understands the implicit rules and lives them out and the 3rd child sees the multiple triangulations he or she is born into and, seeing both the implicit and explicit rules, attempts another way – hah!! Often, we are stuck, knowing all the potential complications, we choose – nothing. Food for thought. Still, life is good!!!

March 28, 2010 Smokey Treats

Here’s the deal: I used to smoke, occasionally, and I know (we all know, right) that they are very, very addictive, an addiction I somehow skipped even while I enjoyed bumming a smokey treat once and a while. But. Watching my father struggle for every breath is just about killing me and any fun or glamour that ciggies ever had for me. I’m angry at my father, which I will have to work to let go of as I don’t know how much time, given the state of his health, I have left with him. I am angry because he tried and tried, and failed and failed more often, to quit smoking despite the very real and very obviously negative side effects. I am angry because I do not want to worry about him being unable to breathe and succumbing to heart failure every single waking moment and yet here I am doing just that. I love my dad and it is uncomfortable being angry with him, but there y’go. 
To breathe is to live and not to be able to – is simply unthinkable. The doctor, the new one, a pulmonologist, recommends he do O2 24/7 and he won’t; the doctor also recommended he use his nebulizer 4x per day and he wants to use it only when he is struggling for breath, maybe once or twice a day. ARRRRRRGGGHHH. As I said to him yesterday, it is now up to you whether you live or die and what is true is he is not sure what, if anything, he has to live for right now, as being in pain and struggling to breathe is not much in the way of quality of life. Except – he lives his dog. Still, my dad feels useless, the man who was always useful: doing, working, making – that man feels useless, a burden, and – he is alone. No one to care for, to do for, no one who needs him more than anyone else, other than his pup – who he can’t walk very far with, anymore. He is struggling with all of this, and this too is a kind of disease.
I must trust him to do what is best for himself; I must trust the process of life as a whole. I must let go of my anger at him and I must let go of him, period, and continue to live my life, which is rich and good. 
I hate cigarettes.